Yuri!!! on ICE, one year on…

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year since that first episode dropped on us. Whilst I have yet to make it to an actual skating competition or ice show (it WILL happen!), Yuri!!! on ICE certainly changed my life. One year ago, I would never have thought I’d go to another anime convention, much less one in the US. I wouldn’t have encountered many of the people that I met there, whom I now consider my friends. And I may have gone many more years before discovering Yamamoto Sayo and the “relationship without a name” theme that runs through so much of her work, a theme that means a lot to me personally.

Hence, to celebrate this anniversary, I bring you another translation. But I’ve put aside my rule of “full interviews only” for a day, in order to focus on the few minutes in episode one that captured so many of our hearts. I present, thus, a collection of translations on Victor’s free skating program, Aria 《Stammi vicino, non te ne andare》.

“Aria 《Stammi vicino, non te ne andare》,” the free program of the living legend who has won the last four world championships. Four types of quad jumps are spread throughout it—the lutz, the flip, the salchow and the toe-loop (with the final pass being the quad toe-triple toe combo, no less). It’s a program of supreme difficulty. The three-jump combo in the second half—triple axel+triple loop+triple loop—is just insane. Having a triple loop as the second jump in a combo is already quite challenging—to jump another on top of that is simply unbelievable. And the step sequence that begins from an inside spread eagle: that, too, is carved out with his entire body, clean, precise and with deep edges. On the ice, he moves in broad, languid strokes, the beautiful line that can be drawn from his throat to his chin reflecting the dignity of a champion. And in the moments where he casts his eyes downward, you can sense the solitude of the supreme monarch. In the appeal before the judges in the second half of the program, he seems to find someone he’s long been searching for, to whom he extends the invitation encapsulated in the lyrics: “Let’s set off on this journey together.” According to the rules, he can add yet another combination, so a higher score is well within his reach. But that speed across the ice does not drop even towards the end…it’s an overwhelming program befitting of a king.

— description from the Yuri!!! on ICE Guidebook, p.19.

Yamamoto has confirmed that Victor’s skating was based on Stéphane Lambiel (Guidebook, p.93), and indeed, the resemblance is unmistakeable. I wouldn’t be surprised if his students and fans recognised that right away, though the golden skates might already have clued them in. In the Miracle on ICE special from Animage January, Choreographer Kenji Miyamoto revealed that he’d imagined him as a beautiful, white marble sculpture, moving in a way that makes it seem like he’s actually still. And speaking to Pash! about the song late last year, this is what Music Producer Tominaga Keisuke had to say.

Aria 《Stammi vicino, non te ne andare》
Ensemble FOVE, conducted by Matsushiba Taku (Tenor: Kudō Kazuma)
The order was for “a classic opera piece that only an absolute champion is allowed to skate.” At that point, we already had the lyrics written by Kubo and a clear image of Victor’s character, so we asked Ueda Shima to create the Italian version of the song, and Matsushiba composed a magnificent aria based around those lyrics. Despite being just 25, Matsushiba is simply incredible (chuckles). Faced with “Please write us an opera” in this day and age, he just answered “Alright, I’ve got it” and went about composing the piece in an orthodox manner, and then took it upon himself to conduct it! According to him, “The orchestral composition for this piece is extremely delicate—it has many fine details that you won’t be able to pick up on just by listening to it once. I thought that this level of detail was needed in order to express ‘the dignity and aura of Victor, the absolute champion’.” Kudō Kazuma, the tenor whom we asked to perform the vocals, has a captivating, velvety voice, and his technique and interpretation are both wonderful. What we captured at the studio was a resounding success.

— from Pash! January 2017, reedited for the Go Yuri Go!!! Fanbook, p.18.

As Yamamoto has indicated several times, those three-and-a-half minutes of skating were necessary to establish Victor as the living legend at the centre of the world of the show. The centrepiece of the first episode of Yuri!!! on ICE, Aria 《Stammi vicino, non te ne andare》 will always hold a special place in my heart.

About karice
MAG fan, freelance translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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